Read by David Marantz
Length: 12 Hrs 18 Min
Genre: Zombie Lit
Quick Thoughts: . Raising Stony Mayhall isn’t just a great zombie novel, it’s a great novel. People who want a book with a main character that you can really cheer for and told in a unique and engaging way should give it a chance. Don’t let your prejudice against non-breathers keep you from experiencing one of my favorite books of the year.
I’m a big fan of Diversity. To paraphrase the famous idiom, diversity is the spice of life. Now, if you know me, you know I really love living my life according to the repeated sayings of anyone who can get their hands on a chicken soup book. Yet, the whole diversity thing is something I truly respect. I like to try different flavors of ice cream, as long as they have peanut butter in it. I enjoy differing toppings for my pizza, whether they be vegetable, animal or fungi. Heck, I’ll even drink my Dt. Dr. Pepper with cherry flavoring in it. Most importantly I try to achieve diversity in what I choose to read. I mean, who wants to read the same old stories, over and over again. So I take chances. I’ll read novels about slow shambling zombies, as well as novels that feature fast running zombies. The zombie plague could be caused by an released bio-weapon, demons from an alternate dimension, or even voodoo. I’m open to talking zombies, zombies with crushes on pretty young girls, or even zombies that can use tools and drive cars. I’m willing to take on a Zombie novel by a debut author from a small press, as well as one by a literary author slumming it in the horror genre. Sometimes my zombie novels are about an outbreak that is eventually quelled by the authorities, and other times it’s a full blown zombie apocalypse. As I said, I’m open to it all. Heck, occasionally I may even read an apocalyptic novel, which isn’t cause by zombies, but maybe the zombies are just an after affect, later on down the road. Who knows? So, when I heard that Daryl Gregory’s Raising Stony Mayhall was a different kind of zombie novel, I was all, “Bring it on!” (Oh, zombie cheerleaders, that’s an idea!)
Raising Stony Mayhall is the biography of John “Stony” Mayhall, It starts when a family discovers a dead woman in the road, and upon examination, finds a small baby with her. The family takes the baby home, and despite its coos and caws, they find no pulse or signs of breath. Quickly, the women of the Mayhall family realize that Stony is a zombie from the 1968 outbreak and must be hidden from the townspeople. Thus begins one of the most unique, touching and entertaining zombie tales I have read. Gregory does wondrous things with this tale that takes the tropes of the genre and smashes them apart, yet creating something even better with the pieces. In some ways, it’s an alternate history of the world if the outbreak featured in Romero’s Night of the Living Dead actually happened, yet the zombies recovered from their initial cannibalistic rage, and lived normal lives in hiding. The first thing readers should pick up on is the narrative tone of the book. This isn’t some piece of literature you are being presented, but a story that is being told. The anonymous narrator seemingly interacts with the reader, adding texture and intimacy to the tale. In particular, his description of the apocalyptic zombie outbreak, which should be horrific, is told in in a hilarious manner, yet without becoming slapstick and cheesy. Stony is a wonderful character that leads a fascinating life in an almost Forrest Gumpian fashion. Every time you think you have a handle on where the story is headed, Gregory throws a curve ball, and the whole complexion of the novel changes. Yet, with all the trips, diversions and interactions of Stony’s life, in the end, it all comes down to family. The relationship between Stony and his family drives this novel, and gives life to a tale of an impossible member of the living dead. Raising Stony Mayhall isn’t just a great zombie novel, it’s a great novel. People who want a book with a main character that you can really cheer for and told in a unique and engaging way should give it a chance. Don’t let your prejudice against non-breathers keep you from experiencing one of my favorite books of the year.
Raising Stony Mayhall is a novel that is a perfect example of what makes a great audiobook. The way the story is told comes off like is a new form of an oral tradition, modern stories that are just made to be aloud. This was David Marantz first audiobook narration, and the casting agent should be proud since he was perfect for this tale. His reading was so full of energy, and captured the tone of the novel just right. His characterizations were spot on. There are so many unique and wonderful characters in this novel, and Marantz brought them all to life, even the differently living individuals. I was very impressed at Marantz’ performance and will definitely be looking for future audiobook projects of his. Its been a long time since I thought this of any novel, audiobook or print but Raising Stony Mayhall was one of those book that once completed, I was very tempted to go back to the beginning and start it all over again. I really can’t think of better praise for a novel.